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Giving scheme the tools it needs

Mike Buck, from Hitachi, service manager Mark Watson and service users Selby Watson and Ken Minshull.
Mike Buck, from Hitachi, service manager Mark Watson and service users Selby Watson and Ken Minshull.

A Royal Voluntary Service scheme, which provides older men the opportunity to share and learn woodwork skills, has received a double boost.

Vital funding of £34,000 has been awarded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery to the Men in the Workshop project in Wooler, while Hitachi has donated a number of power tools for the users.

The funding will be put towards the continued delivery of the service, which provides a place where older men come together to recreate local traditional crafts, learn new skills and reminisce.

The service aims to help the men stay active and connected, while providing friendly, social interaction to help prevent isolation.

Fourteen men currently attend the workshop, at Haugh Head, which is open Tuesdays to Fridays, 10am to 3pm.

It is just one of 11 social care and interactive services across the country, run by Royal Voluntary Service, which have been given funding thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Roz Tinlin, Royal Voluntary Service operations manager for Northumberland, said: “Men in the Workshop provides a lifeline for many socially-isolated men in Northumberland.

“This funding will allow us to grow our service and ensure that we can provide an environment where men are happy to come and socialise.

“We are very grateful to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for the funding.”

Clara Govier, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “There is just no need for so many older people in this country to be so chronically lonely when the solution is often as simple as a group or club where they can have a chat and continue to enjoy their hobbies.

“It is heart-breaking to think that’s all it would take to change someone’s life, and yet so many people don’t even have that to look forward to.

“I’m delighted that players of People’s Postcode Lottery are able to support Royal Voluntary Service so they can continue to operate fantastic services like Men in the Workshop.”

Volunteer Ken Minshull, who has learnt wood carving since he started at the scheme around six months ago, created a plaque (pictured) as a thank-you for the donation.

Hitachi got involved after being contacted by service manager Mark Watson and has donated a number of power tools.

The firm’s Mike Buck also spent time with the users yesterday to explain how the equipment works.

The company has pledged to help the project in the future and all of the tools, which include a jigsaw and an orbital sander, come with a three-year guarantee.

Mark said: “Due to the age of the people we work with, power tools assist to do jobs they couldn’t otherwise do.

“It gives them more independence, because some of them can’t use some of the heavy machinery.

“The men are over the moon and have been straight into the items. It’s like opening presents at Christmas.

“We didn’t expect to get so much from Hitachi, we are honoured.”

To find out more information about Men in the Workshop, contact Mark on 01668 260248 or visit www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk